There’s been only one exception to the rule since the turn of the millennium, She’s a Tiger (2013), and that more of a technicality. She’s a Tiger was first past the post in the Juvenile Fillies, only to be disqualified for interference, so the Eclipse electorate was sticking with the original order of finish rather than the stewards’ amendment. You have to go back two decades, to Chilukki (1999), to find the last 2-year-old filly champion who didn’t win the Juvenile Fillies.
British Idiom was bred by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm and sold for $40,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October. Although a bargain in hindsight, the chestnut was actually the second highest-priced yearling that year for her young sire Flashback. From the Tapit stallion’s second crop, British Idiom is the third registered foal from Rose and Shine, twice a stakes winner as a juvenile at Woodbine. The Mr. Sekiguchi mare has also produced the well-named Parade of Roses (by New Year’s Day), who won last January’s Borderplex S. at Sunland.
Trainer Brad Cox had British Idiom ready to debut at Saratoga for owners Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group (Stuart Grant), Madaket Stables, and Bethlehem Stables. Her inexpensive auction price made her eligible for a restricted maiden on Aug. 15. Cox shrewdly took advantage of the race conditions to start her off there, and British Idiom proved more authoritative than her slight 7-2 favoritism. She forced the pace in the 6-furlong dash, put her early foes away, and drew off by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:10.11.
The initial plan was to stretch out for the Pocahontas (G2), but a minor illness prompted Cox to wait for the Oct. 4 Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland. British Idiom didn’t merely pass her class and distance test – she aced it. Rating just off the pace, she rolled forward on the far turn and left them toiling as she crossed the wire 6 1/2 lengths clear. Finishing best of the rest was the top 2-year-old filly at Saratoga, Spinaway (G1) and Adirondack (G2) winner Perfect Alibi.
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita presented another kind of examination, adapting to a deeper surface as well as a wild pace. British Idiom again showed tactical flexibility for Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who rode her in all three starts. The 5-2 second choice found herself farther back off the hot tempo, but gained on the far turn, drew alongside 2-1 favorite Donna Veloce in midstretch, and outdueled her by a neck.
British Idiom brings a 3-for-3 record and $1,381,250 in earnings into her sophomore campaign. The Feb. 15 Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds is penciled in her for reappearance on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail. Currently second on the Oaks leaderboard with 30 points, British Idiom will try to become the first champion 2-year-old filly to wear the lilies since Hall of Famer Silverbulletday in 1999.
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